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News Corp will charge for online news

May 7, 2009

It’s official—Rupert Murdoch says News Corp will start charging for online subscriptions in the next year or so.

As much as I usually rail against this sort of thing, I’m looking forward to the move. I don’t think it will work—I don’t think this information hole will emerge and people will start thinking, “Gee, I’d better subscribe to one of News Corp’s sites!”—but I think Old Media tycoons, print traditionalists and even our elected leaders need to see this not work. They need to realize that the reason the Wall Street Journal and ESPN are able to charge for online subscriptions and get away with it is because they’re offering premium content in industries that make people money (re: stocks and gambling, which are increasingly synonymous). And they need to realize how badly these paywalls are going to affect traffic to their sites (and by extension, how much they need Google).

I worry, of course, that once this venture fails, the conversation could turn back to, “Well, Google’s practices go beyond fair use”—I got the impression during yesterday’s Senate hearing on the future of journalism that the deck for that legal argument could be stacked against Google.

Thanks to @normgregory for the link.

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